Pat Riley wanted a versatile big that could spread the floor, push the ball, and be a willing passer in the offense.
In the summer of 2014, he signed Josh McRoberts to a 4-year, $23 million deal in an effort to convince LeBron James to return to the Heat. He was coming off a year where he averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game and made a significant contribution to the Charlotte Hornets success.
But as we all know, things did not play out as planned. For one, the combination of McRoberts and Danny Granger as free agent acquisitions did not impress LeBron to stay and he left. And on top of that, McRoberts spent three years here, and not one of them were healthy.
He battled injuries left and right and could not stay on the floor. It felt like as soon as he began to find his place in the offense, he would get hurt. In his first year with the team, he played on 17 games. In his second year, he played in only 24 games, and in his final season last year, he played in just 22 games.
In his three years in Miami, he totaled 329 points. The Miami Heat traded him for A.J. Hammons who has not played for the team, and there seems to be no indication that he will. Hammons contract, although a year longer, was smaller and allowed to the Heat to make some additional moves.
One of those moves was to sign Kelly Olynyk to a 4-year contract.
In 37 games this season, Kelly Olynyk has scored 389 points. He has become exactly or more than what they wanted when they signed McRoberts. Olynyk does all of the things well that they hoped McRoberts would do, and he has been healthy. Olynyk is averaging 10.5 PPG and 5.9 RPG this season and has started 15 games.
Olynyk is not a dominant player, but that’s not what they signed him or asked him to be. They wanted a ball mover, screener, rebounder, and able passer while also spreading the floor. He does all of those. And he is getting more comfortable in his role in the offense.
It’s refreshing to see this work out, and not be frustrated with a wasted contract on the bench. Everyone wanted Josh McRoberts to work out, but it didn’t. Now, Olynyk has the chance to be an important part of the offense through the sets that begin at the elbow.
Josh McRoberts may be gone, but everything the Heat hoped he would be is playing right now through Kelly Olynyk.